Obsidian Command

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Unspeakable Mercy

Posted on 20 Mar 2021 @ 4:26pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Crewman Recruit Zuzal
Edited on on 20 Mar 2021 @ 11:58pm

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Location: Ardeshir Sick Bay
Timeline: Backpost— following The Resistance
767 words - 1.5 OF Standard Post Measure



Despite knowing the futility, Calliope made the bravest effort she could at her lunch tray. But, as her last three meals had done, much of it also returned to the surface. She was far better prepared now, having a bin at the ready since, as a general rule, she liked to learn from her mistakes. She did her level best and swished her mouth out with the cup of water. Dropping the nasty bin back on the floor beside the bed she turned over onto her side and let her arm dangle over the edge, weak, dehydrated, waiting for the next inevitable wave to strike. She wasn’t exactly sleepy, so much as tired of being tired. She watched the blurry forms of a knot of staff gathered on the other side of the privacy screen, talking in hushed voices. Probably about her not showing improvement.

Another round of retching and spitting came and went.

Pinching the bridge of her nose and trying to move past the end of this wave, Calliope closed her eyes. Maybe getting better and getting out wasn’t going to happen. She was trying and failing. Maybe she’d always be sick. What if they were all just talking out of their asses about a recovery and she’d actually messed herself up for good? She didn’t move as the nurses came back through to gather and replace her bucket and take her information from the monitors.

Although she thought she had heard the nurses all shuffle back out again a few minutes later, a hand still rested on Calliope’s shoulder for a while. She tried to ignore it but when it didn’t move on with some other busy nursing task, Calliope opened one eye. The hand was green like her own, though not freckled like hers but a blemishless complexion, almost glowingly perfect. It belonged to a short haired orion girl in a recruit uniform. There was no way the girl wasn’t a minor, Calliope thought. Her face was so young. She had a look in her eyes of innocent encouragement that Calliope felt she couldn’t crush with an argument or passive resistance as she had with other staff members.

The Commander’s lack of resistance was enough to count as consent to the crewman who wordlessly proceeded to push the tangled covers away from Calliope’s limbs and swung her weary legs around to the side of the bed for her, ducking herself entirely bodily under Calliope’s arm and lifting the Commander up as if carrying a fallen soldier alongside. Calliope allowed her feet to touch the floor, though they weren’t much help. She found herself impressed at the strength of the girl, who paced herself to allow Calliope to attempt to shuffle her feet.

When they reached the bathroom, there were fresh clothes and linens waiting on the counter and the water was already running. While still propping her up, the crewman physically lifted Calliope's lower leg for her at the knee, first one, then the other, to get into the water. And then they were both in the shower entire, clothes and all, though it made no difference at all to the girl who continued to hold Calliope up; as the Commander made her own effort to slip out of the spent gown, the crewman only helped at a bare minimum to finish where the commander began- pulling a cord free or lifting an edge past the last reach of her fingers, until the Commander stood undressed, shaking, and grasping the still fully uniformed, fully sopping wet, crewman’s shoulders. Looking down past her dangling necklace at the floor of the tub, Calliope spat out the water pouring over her face with each breath, her tired muscles basking in the timeless therapy that was hot, running water.

Setting her forehead on the crewman’s shoulder, Calliope started shuddering.

The crewman continued to hold her up on her feet and otherwise just stood in silent comfort while the Commander chucked up the bitter bile of her heart— all of the frustration, self loathing, helplessness, fear, failure, and desperation issued themselves in sobbing, sputtering, and wordless verbalizations.

There were zero expectations of getting better, or being right, or admitting wrong, or collecting herself professionally, or answering questions, or sparing someone pain. The girl never gave her own name, never shushed her, never tried to offer thin comforts, nor even so much as uttered a syllable. She only stood and let Calliope stand. And for that Calliope would be eternally, unfathomably grateful.

 

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